Whitetail shooting in county would be unusual

My friends and I were sitting in our deer camp this weekend talking about whitetails and what if one of us shot a whitetail while blacktail hunting? The regulations for deer season say just that the bag limit is one buck with at least one visible antler, not just one blacktail buck on the West side and one mule deer buck on the East side.

What's the rule on this? Would I get in trouble if I accidentally shot a whitetail while blacktail hunting in Jackson County?

— Mark, via email

Shooting a whitetail in Jackson County and virtually anywhere in Western Oregon is in violation of the state's hunting laws that protect rare whitetails, but the chance of it happening to you here in Jackson County is highly improbable, biologists say.

Western Oregon sports two populations of white-tailed deer, one along the Columbia River and the other in the Umpqua drainage around Roseburg. Both were considered endangered until 1995, and the Roseburg-area herds have been strong enough to allow for some limited hunting on them.

Even though they are only one drainage away from here, there are no known whitetails in Jackson County, even though hunters from time to time report seeing or shooting one, biologists say.

"Sometimes we get reports of people saying we saw a whitetail or we shot a whitetail, but it's people who shoot blacktails that have more of a traditional whitetail rack," says Steve Niemela, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in White City.

Black-tails have black tails and antlers that typically branch twice. Whitetails have brown patches on their tails and their two antlers typically have tines off single beams that protrude forward.

In a handful of local instances where hunters thought they shot blacktails, inspections turned out that they were mistaken, Niemela says.

"But that's not to say it's impossible, but it would be pretty unusual," Niemela says.

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